Surgery to remove the colon and rectum is called a proctocolectomy. This is the standard surgical procedure for patients with ulcerative colitis where medical therapy has failed or serious life-threatening complications have ensued.
Proctocolectomy is followed by either:
Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (Restorative Proctocolectomy)
This procedure preserves part of the anus, which allows the patient to have normal bowel movements. The surgeon removes the diseased part of the colon and the inside of the rectum, leaving the outer muscles of the anus. The surgeon then creates a pouch from the end of the ileum and attaches it to the inside of the anus. Waste is stored in the pouch and passed through the anus in the usual manner. Bowel movements may be more frequent and watery than before the procedure and inflammation of the internal pouch is a possible complication. This is known as pouchitis. However, patients who have an ileoanal anastomosis do not have to wear a permanent external ileostomy pouch.
During this surgical procedure, the surgeon creates a small opening in the abdomen, called a stoma, to which he or she attaches the end of the small intestine, called the ileum. Waste will travel through the small intestine and exit the body through the stoma, which is about the size of a quarter and is usually located in the lower right part of the abdomen near the beltline. A pouch is worn over the opening to collect waste, and the patient empties the pouch as needed.
Anatomy of the lower digestive system showing the colon and other organs.